Ohio History Journal

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews



Scott Nearing:  An Intellectual Biography.  By John A. Saltmarsh.

(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991. xii + 337p.; illustrations,

notes, manuscript sources, bibliography, index. $39.95..)

Loving and Leaving the Good Life. By Helen Nearing. (Post Mills,

Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1992. 197p.; illustrations,

selected bibliography. $19.95.)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Nonfiction Reader. Edited by Larry Ceplair.

(New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. xi + 345p.; notes, bibliogra-

phy, index. $62.00 cloth; $17.50 paper.)

"I Belong to the Working Class": The Unfinished Autobiography of Rose

Pastor Stokes. Edited by Herbert Shapiro and David L. Sterling. (Athens:

The University of Georgia Press, 1992. xlv + 173p.; notes, index. $30.00.)


It is not always realized how full was what might be called Scott Nearing's

first life. It took him as a maverick academic from the University of

Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business to 1915. There and then he had

lost tenure and academic credentials. He had defiantly carried on an anti-cap-

italist, anti-American message into classrooms, continuous public appear-

ances, and some 20 books as well as innumerable pamphlets, articles, and

ephemera. Given another academic chance at the University of Toledo, he

continued his agitations against "unearned capital" which produced wholesale

poverty, to which he then added opposition to intervention in World War I.

This lost him his position in Toledo. Though a shadow of a career still re-

mained in academic appearances before student bodies willing to hear his ex-

tremist denunciations of capitalism and government, his first life was largely


He tried communism, but gave it up-and was given up by its American

exponents-for lack of discipline to the Party line. He is best remembered in

this connection for his and the communist Joseph Freeman's 1926 book,

Dollar Diplomacy. For the most part Nearing and his second wife Helen

Nearing retired from economic but also social oneness with American soci-

ety. They built houses first in Vermont, then in Maine, growing vegetables

and writing about them, while society itself endured the 1930s Depression, a

mightier war, then a protracted Youth uprising which threatened national


The measure of the Nearings's status in society appears in the contrast be-

tween their 1954 publication of Living the Good Life, then just another

Nearing publication, also involving such books as Democracy is Not Enough

(1945), (with Helen Nearing) The Maple Sugar Books (1950)-and a 1977